Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tavis Smiley: MLK and Beyond Vietnam

Tavis Smiley's Program showed that MLK experienced heavy backlash (shown above) for speaking up against the war in Vietnam.This backlash hit him from within the Civil Rights Movement to the mainstream media. . . .

The media of the day did not like MLK's dissent and let him know about it. They ingrained their role as protector of the government line.

  • Life Magazine: "[The speech was] demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." 
  • Reader's Digest: "[King] has alienated many of the Negro's friends and armed the Negro's foes ... by creating the impression that the Negro is disloyal."
  •  The New York Times: "Dr. King can only antagonize opinion in this country instead of winning recruits to the peace movement by recklessly comparing American military methods to those of the Nazis testing "new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe." The facts are harsh but they do not justify such slander."
  • The Washington Post : "Dr. Martin Luther King's Vietnam speech was not a sober and responsible comment on the war but a reflection of his disappointment at the slow progress of civil rights and the war on poverty. It was filled with bitter and damaging allegations and inferences that he did not and could not document."
  • The Washington Post again: "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."
  •  The Chicago Tribune [Guest Editorial from Cincinnati Enquirer]: "He quite definitely crossed over the line when he lent himself and his prestige to an "anti-Vietnam War" rally in Chicago."

The speech (above) remarks to the courage that King had in doing the right thing. He connected the poverty in America with the government's constant need for war. He sacrificed much of the support he earned in fighting for civil rights. This sacrifice shows the degree of his integrity--a degree not conveyed in conventional classrooms.

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